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Living, Homes

What Makes Me: Annie Sloan CBE

Annie Sloan

We know you’ll be delighted to join us in congratulating Annie Sloan, Painter and Colour Expert, on her recent and well-deserved appointment as CBE for services to Interior Design in the King’s Birthday Honours List.

The CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) is the highest-ranking Order of the Empire award and is given to those with a prominent role at national level. Annie started creating her ‘empire’ in 1990, when she developed her Chalk PaintTM which is now exclusively manufactured in Oxford. Since then, she has become a true global phenomenon, inspiring an international community of upcyclers, painters, amateurs and professionals, all of whom are dedicated fans of Annie’s colourful, joyous and sustainable approach to interior design.

What Makes Annie…


It comes as no surprise; colour makes me happy! Colour contrasts, unexpected combinations, and a flash of zinging pigment whether in somebody’s outfit, their home, or their garden brings me great joy on a daily basis. Painting, too. I am so lucky to be surrounded by things I love that bring me joy in my everyday life and I try to spread that joy to others by being generous and playful with colour in everything I do. The best feeling is repainting old, unlovely, or damaged furniture in a lick of fresh paint. It brings it back to life, which thrills me, and the process itself is therapeutic and satisfying. Especially because when using Chalk Paint I don’t have to sand first – there’s a lot to be sad for skipping to the fun part!


Sadness to me is a unfulfillment. An all-white or grey space; a creative project postponed through fear of failure, a lack of drive to change things for the better. Empty shop fronts in city centres; an emblem of a failed dream. I owned my own shop in Headington and then Cowley Road, Oxford, for many years and understand first time the struggles of independent business owners. I wish they had more support from councils. Feeling powerless, too, is a feeling that I hate and something I try to avoid by taking control of the things I can change.


Global warming and how we are damaging our planet concerns me greatly. That’s why all my paints are low VOC, water-based, and contain minimal VOCs. It’s so important to me to make the extra effort to preserve the world we live in, and to be transparent about how we are doing a bit. There is a lot of joy to be had in connecting with other people with the same fears, though. An all-white home, though? I worry for people who live in bland, uninspiring places and what that does to them. I’m convinced it isn’t healthy.


Blues and greens. Colours that evoke wide open skies and green, thriving landscapes. These colours are inherently calming and introspective, especially at the stronger more heavily saturated end of the colour palette. My bedroom is painted a rich, jewel-toned blue called Aubusson Blue and it’s here where I switch off at the end of the day and process my thoughts.


Reds! Hot pinks! A jungle green. These colours jump out at us and when I’m wearing outfits in these shades I feel as though I’m projecting confidence and warmth, which in turn helps me feel confident and warm myself.


Anger can be a healthy emotion. It can shake us out of the doldrums, energise us, motivate us to change. I can be hot-tempered and this is because I care. When I feel angry I look at what action I can take: if there is nothing useful to be done I channel the adrenalin and the rage creatively. You’d think this would lead to lots of angry looking red painted cabinets but actually I find I get so absorbed in my work that my mood dissipates quickly. Some of my favourite, most well-executed painted projects were started in anger and finished with love.

Proud of my heritage

I have a Scottish father who met my Fijian mother in New Zealand, brought me up in Australia and then the UK before leaving to live in what was Rhodesia. They were global travellers, explorers, lovers of art and culture. I feel very deeply that I am a citizen of the world and am grateful to my parents for instilling that in me.

Photography by Jesse Wild


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